Two Minute Medicine

These are short stories aimed to provide timely, relevant news and announcements, told through vibrant articles that keep the Dal Med community informed, engaged, and excited by what’s happening inside Dalhousie’s Faculty of Medicine. We also publish full-feature stories on an ongoing basis via Dal Med News, sharing them in a variety of channels with faculty, staff, and students. We work in partnership with other communications teams, sharing content with Dal News and others.

If you are interested in pitching your news/research to external media, please contact the Communications Team, Jennifer Lewandowski and Jason Bremner.


Michael J. Fox Foundation Awards Funding to better understand Parkinson’s Disease

May 3, 2021

Name: Aarnoud C. van der Spoel, PhD
Occupation: Assistant Professor 
 Departments of Pediatrics and Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Dr. Aarnoud C. van der Spoel, Co-Principal Investigator and Assistant Professor, Departments of Pediatrics and Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and his team including his Dr. Chris Phenix (Principal Investigator) from the University of Saskatchewan have been awarded US$150,000 by The Michael J. Fox Foundation to develop diagnostic radiotracers for early detection of Parkinson’s Disease, a chronic degenerative brain disorder that affects more than 100,000 Canadians. The Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation is contributing $40,000 in matching support—invaluable additional funding that enables the team to proceed with the project full steam ahead. The goal is to produce nuclear imaging agents that researchers can use to “peer into the living brain” to better understand Parkinson’s Disease.

Dr. van der Spoel obtained his MSc in medical biology from the University of Utrecht, The Netherlands, and was awarded his PhD in cell biology and genetics from Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands. He did most of the research toward his PhD in the laboratory of Dr. Alessandra d'Azzo in the Department of Genetics at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, TN, investigating the cell biology of enzymes involved in lysosomal storage disorders. For his post-doctoral training, Dr. van der Spoel moved to the laboratory of Prof. Frances Platt at the Departments of Biochemistry and Pharmacology of the University of Oxford, UK, and studied the biochemical and biological effects of alkylated imino sugars that target sphingolipid-metabolizing enzymes. In 2009, he took up a faculty position in the Departments of Pediatrics and Biochemistry & Molecular Biology of Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, and was awarded tenure in 2016.

Read the full article here.

Dr. Sharon Clarke named 2021 CAR Young Investigator Award recipient

April 27, 2021

Name: Dr. Sharon Clarke
Occupation: Assistant Professor 
 Department of Diagnostic Radiology

Dr. Sharon Clarke is the 2021 recipient of the CAR Young Investigator Award from the Canadian Association of Radiologists. This award is presented to a CAR member in the early stages of their career and recognizes exceptional contributions to medical imaging-related research. Dr. Clarke is the first woman to receive the award in Canada and faculty members of Dalhousie University have won the award more than any other university.

Dr. Sharon Clarke is a clinician-scientist and abdominal radiologist at the QEII Health Sciences Centre and an Associate Professor in Diagnostic Radiology at Dalhousie University. She completed a combined MD/PhD program at Western University with a PhD in Medical Biophysics, followed by Radiology residency at Dalhousie University and Abdominal MRI fellowship at Stanford. She began her clinical practice in 2012 and was one of the founding members of the BIOmedical Translational Imaging Centre (BIOTIC), a hospital-based medical imaging research centre. Dr. Clarke has been awarded over $3 million in operational grant funds as Principal or Co-Principal Investigator as well as nearly $220k in infrastructure funding from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation and Nova Scotia Research and Innovation Trust.

Currently, Dr. Clarke is on the Canadian Association of Radiologists (CAR) Prostate MRI and MRI in Pregnancy Guidelines Working Groups and is on the CARJ Standing Committee. She acts as a reviewer for several granting agencies and journals, including CARJ. She enjoys her role as clinician scientist because it allows her to see the benefits that bridging clinical care with world-class research collaborators and technologies can provide, and is looking forward to continuing on this path.

Dr. Sarah Manos named 2020-2021 RDoC Award recipient

April 13, 2021

Name: Dr.Sarah Manos
Occupation: Associate Professor & Director of Postgraduate Medical Education
Department of Pediatrics

Dr. Sarah Manos, Director of Postgraduate Medical Education and Associate Professor at the Department of Pediatrics at Dalhousie University, is being honoured nationally for her contributions to improving the wellness of resident doctors in Canada. Dr. Manos is receiving the Resident Doctos of Canada Puddester Award for Resident Wellness, staff category. She shares this award with Dr. Elene Stergiopoulos of the University of Toronto, this year’s resident recipient.

Dr. Esther Kim, President of RDoC, said: “Residency is a particularly dynamic and stressful time for many learners, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated these pressures. Efforts to improve resident wellness are more important than ever, and we’re honoured to be able to recognize Dr. Manos for her significant contributions to these efforts.”

Dr. Manos is the Program Director and Associate Professor at the Department of Pediatrics at Dalhousie University, and a fierce advocate for resident physicians. In 2015, Dr. Manos co-led the Dalhousie Resident Wellness Task Force, a group that advised on how to ensure that the physical, emotional and mental health of Dalhousie’s residents were prioritized by the medical faculty. This work resulted in the establishment of the Dalhousie Office of Resident Affairs in July 2017. Dr. Manos’ work included ensuring that all first-year pediatrics residents in Dalhousie participate in Resident Doctors of Canada’s Resiliency Curriculum Workshops. In 2018, Dr. Manos worked with residents to establish the Resident Peer Support Person, a role dedicated to discussions about resident wellbeing. Most recently, she took on many roles addressing the needs of residents during the COVID-19 pandemic, conducting virtual check-ins and ensuring that learning objectives were achieved. During an uncertain time, Dr. Manos has been a source of security and assurance for the residents around her.

2021 AFMC Award for Outstanding Contribution to Faculty Development in Canada

February 11, 2021

Name: Dr. Lara Hazelton
Associate Professor
Department of Psychiatry, Division of Medical Education

Dr. Lara Hazelton, Associate Professor in Dalhousie Medical School’s Department of Psychiatry, was recently selected as the recipient of the 2021 AFMC Award for Outstanding Contribution to Faculty Development in Canada. The Association of Faculties of Medicine in Canada is the academic partnership of Canada’s faculties of medicine. Through their collective leadership, expertise, and advocacy, they aim to achieve excellence in education, research and care for the health of all Canadians. The AFMC awards are presented in recognition and celebration of an individual’s distinguished leadership, excellence, and achievements in academic medicine.

Dr. Lara Hazelton is an Associate Professor and Director of Continuing Professional Development with the Department of Psychiatry at Dalhousie University. She is also the Director of Academic Faculty Development for the Dalhousie Faculty of Medicine. Dr. Hazelton completed a Masters of Education in Curriculum from Acadia University in 2012. Her scholarly work focuses on topics in continuing education for physicians, including leadership development, teaching skills, and online course development/implementation. Her publications have appeared in Academic Psychiatry, Teaching and Learning in Medicine, The Canadian Journal of Physician Leadership, and The Canadian Medical Association Journal, to name a few. In addition to teaching medical learners at all levels, Dr. Hazelton practices adult psychiatry in an outpatient clinic, and is Attending Staff with the Nova Scotia Health Authority.

CAME Wooster Family Grant in Medical Education

January 20, 2021

Name: Dr. Andrew Glennie
Spine Surgeon, Assistant Professor
Division of Orthopaedic Surgery, Dalhousie University

Dr. Andrew Glennie, an orthopedic surgeon and assistant professor at in Dalhousie’s Department of Surgery, is the principal investigator of the project, Exploring Faculty Perceptions of Medical Student Mistreatment in Surgical Clerkshi and the 2021 recipient of the CAME Wooster Family Grant in Medical Education, which is awarded to recognize excellence in medical education. Dr. Glennie is the head of surgical clerkship and a member of the simulation advisory committee for both undergraduate and post-graduate medicine. He is also a member of the post-graduate training program in the Division of Orthopedics and focuses significant effort on unique competency assessments.

From a research standpoint Dr. Glennie plans to focus on quality assurance for patients with spinal column trauma including those patients suffering from spinal cord injury. Also, evaluating health related quality of life of patients will be a major focus going forward for all elective patients.

2021 Nova Scotia Health Quality Award Winners

January 15, 2021

Name: A full list of the project members can be found here.
Team: NSH Central Zone Microbiology Division 
Department: Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Dalhousie University and Nova Scotia Health Authority 

A large team of Dalhousie’s Faculty of Medicine faculty and staff were recently recognized by the 2021 Nova Scotia Health Quality Awards. The team’s submitted project, ‘Diagnostic Innovations: Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic – Blood Collection Innovations and COVID-19 Diagnostic Solutions’ was the chosen winner under the Health Care Quality Team category within the 2021 NSHA Quality Award competition, a celebration of the incredible work taking place across the Nova Scotia Health Authority in support of quality improvement, patient safety, patient experience, diversity and inclusion and teamwork.  

The project is an innovative and dedicated approach to people-centered care that is commendable for its role in helping Nova Scotia Health achieve excellence in health, healing and learning through working together. The COVID-19 pandemic required rapid adaptation of blood collection services across Nova Scotia to meet new infection control standards. This project team responded, opening Canada’s first Drive-Thru site offering a full range of blood collection alternating with COVID specimen. At on-site blood collection locations, an online appointment system was adopted to meet physical distancing requirements and avoid ques. Finally, an In-Home blood collection service was mobilized to fill the remaining gap for patients with challenges accessing other blood collection services. This comprehensive, innovative, and multi-pronged approach provides an innovative, safe, accessible, and high-quality service.

Arthritis Society Top 10 Research Advances of 2020

January 14, 2021

Name: Dr. Jason McDougall, PhD
Department of Pharmacology, Department of Anesthesia, Pain Management & Perioperative Medicine Dalhousie University

Many people with osteoarthritis (OA) struggle with effective pain relief. One of the limitations of pain control is that prescribed analgesics, like NSAIDs, treat pain caused by inflammation, and are not effective for neuropathic pain, caused by damaged nerves in the joints. Dr. Jason McDougall identified a natural cannabinoid system in animal joints that is effective in relieving neuropathic and inflammatory pain. He also discovered new cannabis constituents that may help patients better manage their pain. By tapping into the body’s natural cannabinoid system, people with OA may be able to reduce the dose of NSAIDs needed to treat joint pain and inflammation, leading to fewer side effects. 

Dr. McDougall’s research was recently featured by the Arthritis Society of Canada on their Top 10 Research Advances of 2020. Additionally, his team published an article in the National Library of Medicine outlining the important role for cannabis and the endocannabinoid system to reduce inflammation and pain in numerous diseases including arthritis, migraine, and asthma.

Beatrice Hunter Cancer Research Institute Cancer Research Training Program Awardees

January 4, 2021

Name: Dr. Sina Mazinani
  Postdoctoral Fellow
Pediatrics, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

The Beatrice Hunter Cancer Research Institute has awarded over $ 4.9M in stipend support to Dalhousie’s Faculty of Medicine. Through the Cancer Research Training Program (CTRP), trainees have access to a program designed to expose them to all aspects of cancer research. The CRTP, annually supports approximately 40 Graduate Students, Postdoctoral Fellows and Clinical Research Fellows pursuing cancer research within cutting edge facilities overseen by successful cancer researchers across Atlantic Canada. This includes Postdoctoral Fellow, Dr. Sina Mazinani.

"CRTP has greatly improved my research experience at Dalhousie University as a postdoctoral fellow in the field of breast cancer research. The program helps me to obtain a more comprehensive understanding of cancer and its various aspects, in addition to significantly enhancing the progress of my project.” says Dr. Mazinani.

Dr. Mazinani is joined by Dalhousie’s Mr. Nick Dawe, Dr. Smitha George, Ms. Kateryna Kratzer, Mr. Vishnu Kumar who were also named the newest recipients of CRTP awards from the Beatrice Hunter Cancer Research Institute.

December 2020

Inpatient addiction medicine consultation services (AMCS) improve care in patients with illnesses caused by substance use disorders

December 17, 2020

Name: Dr. Thomas Brothers, MD CISAM
Resident physician (General Internal Medicine & Clinician-Investigator Program)
Department of Medicine, Dalhousie University

Dr. Brothers is a general internal medicine resident, responsible for leading an initiative to improve care for patients with substance use disorders upon their admission to a hospital. His research indicates that inpatient addiction medicine consultation services (AMCS) are associated with improved retention in care and reduced substance use after hospital discharge, in patients hospitalized for illnesses caused by substance use disorders.

Dr. Brothers, along with a team of hospital-based medical trainees and community-based addiction medicine physicians, worked on a research project that was published in the journal Substance Abuse; the official journal of the International Society of Addiction Medicine (ISAM) and the Association for Medical Education and Research in Substance Use & Addiction (AMERSA). The paper is entitled, "Implementation and evaluation of a novel, unofficial, trainee-organized hospital addiction medicine consultation service” and can be read in full here.

November 2020

A Designated Outdoor Classroom for Crichton Park School: A Supportive Space for Learning during the Pandemic and Beyond

October 20, 2020

Name: Dr. Jaymi Cormier, PhD
Manager, Health Research Strategy
Medical Research Development Office, Faculties of Health and Medicine, Dalhousie University

As a method to quell the anxiety felt by most parents sending their children back to school during a pandemic, Dr. Cormier wanted to find a way to help her kids’ school operate in this challenging environment. So, she submitted a proposal to help build an outdoor classroom for Crichton Park Elementary School, in Dartmouth, NS. The Nova Scotia Back to School Plan recommends that teachers teach outside as much as possible and her plan explores ways to give teachers an effective space to do this. As you know there is significant literature supporting the health benefits (mental and physical) of kids being outside, so it’s really a win-win, during COVID and beyond.

This project was approved with great enthusiasm by the Principal, VP and teachers at the school, and efforts are now underway to move it forward. In addition to the school’s support, Dr. Cormier has connected with Dr. Sara Kirk, Scientific Director of the Healthy Populations Institute at Dalhousie University, and UpLift, a collaborative project aimed at addressing critical health issues among Nova Scotia’s youth.